Covid 19 Omicron: Record 446 new community cases, 10 million vaccine jabs milestone reached

New Zealand has hit a new record of 446 Covid-19 community cases today as the number of vaccine jabs in New Zealanders’ arms hits the 10 million milestone.

The latest case numbers were announced by the Ministry of Health this afternoon – well up on yesterday’s record of 306.

And as anti-vaccine mandate protesters occupy Parliament grounds for the fourth day in a tense standoff with police, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins issued a press release announcing the number of jabs administered to Kiwis had hit 10m mark at 2pm today.

It was bolstered by a surge in boosters and “healthy uptake” in children aged 5 to 11 having their first does, he said.

“Kiwis have really pulled together to protect each other, with 95 per cent of people aged over 12 now fully vaccinated – one of the highest rates in the world. Sixty-one per cent of people over 18 who are due for a booster have already had one – and this is climbing quickly.”

This was a major logistical achievement and testament to DHBs and health providers who had pitched in with the vaccine rollout, Hipkins said.

“But of course, it’s the people of New Zealand who have embraced the science and put their trust in the health system who deserve the biggest accolade. They should take a bow, and then take a breath and continue to encourage others to get vaccinated.”

There were 446 community cases of Covid-19 announced today.

There were also 32 new cases at the border, and 23 people are in hospital.

The new latest community cases are in Northland (16), Auckland (340), Waikato (48), Bay of Plenty (14), Lakes (13), Taranaki (1), Hutt Valley (7), Capital and Coast (4), and Southern (3) health districts.

Of those needing hospital-level care, there were two people in North Shore Hospital, 10 at Middlemore, eight in Auckland, two in Rotorua and one person in Christchurch.

None are in ICU or HDU.

The ministry said there were now 2874active cases identified in the past 21 days and not yet classified as recovered.

In the past 24 hours tests had increased on recent days to 23,146.

Today the Ministry of Health said the increase in cases was a reminder that, as expected, the Omicron variant is spreading in our communities as we have seen in other countries.

“The number of cases will continue to fluctuate from day to day, but our expectation is that cases will continue to increase in the coming weeks.

“All of us can all play our part to slow the spread of the virus, help protect our most vulnerable people from being infected, and ensure our health system is able to manage extra demand for services.”

The ministry appealed for anyone with any cold or flu symptoms that could be Covid-19to get a test and isolate at home until a negative result is returned.

The most common early symptoms of the Omicron variant are a sore or scratchy throat, and a runny nose. Even if you develop a small sniffle, please get a test, the ministry says.

The Big Boost continued today, promoting the booster dose to anyone over 18 who has had their second dose more than three months ago. Many vaccination centres wouldbe open extended hours over the weekend to encourage people to get their booster, the ministry said.

Yesterday more than 50,000 booster doses were given, bringing the total so far to 1,772,914.

“It is great to see that 43 per cent of children in the 5 to 11 age group have already had their first dose. We want as many children as possible to be protected through vaccination.”

Ahead of the Ministry of Health’s Covid case numbers update, Northern District Health Board this morning confirmed 16 new cases in the region which are under investigation.

The virus is also spreading around the South Island, with a positive case confirmed overnight in Dunedin, after a record number of cases yesterday.

An expert has said the country could see 600 daily cases of Covid-19 by early next week and exceed 1000 in five to six days after that.

“You wouldn’t put a precise estimate but the direction of the curve is very consistent. It is rising rapidly and we will obviously start to see numbers we’ve never seen before in New Zealand,” University of Otago professor Michael Baker said.

Yesterday there were 306 new cases in the community and 30 cases of Covid-19 were detected at the border.

Twelve people were in hospital with the virus but none were in intensive care.

Northland DHB said seven of the region’s new cases were in the Far North and nine were in the Whangārei District.

They are all under investigation to determine whether they are linked to known cases.

The Southern District Health Board said the Dunedin case had been infectious while in Dunedin, Wanaka and Cromwell.

The case will be counted in today’s numbers, as well as two Queenstown cases reported yesterday.

One of the Queenstown cases became the first community case in the Southern DHB for the current outbreak.

The mayor of Queenstown Lakes Jim Boult described the news as a wake-up call for the community.

“This may feel confronting with our district having been free from Covid for so long, but we knew it was coming. Over the coming weeks and months, we are highly likely to see more cases pop up, so have a chat to your household about what you would do in case you had to isolate at home. Do you have enough groceries, pet food and medication, or do you have someone who can drop supplies at your door?” he said.

Meanwhile, police have said it might take days for the protest at Parliament to wrap up as it enters its fourth day.

More than 120 people were arrested in a volatile day of “unprecedented” protests yesterday, with stretched police indicating the anti-vaccine mandate occupation could last days.

This morning there were still about 50 tents on the ground and an estimate of a few hundred protesters.

A protester told an NZME reporter they expected more people to join them today, including a big group of school children.

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